Let’s read the abstract of the paper, Overnight Returns and Firm Specific Investor Sentiment. We can see that the authors tried to analyze something called overnight returns. If we skip ahead to Section 2 titled sample, variable definitions, and descriptive statistics, we can see that overnight returns are defined as the percent change from the close price of the previous day to the opening price of the next day. The overnight returns are also called closed open returns. They also mentioned investor sentiment. If we jump to the introduction, we see that overnight returns may be used as a proxy for firm-level investor sentiment. In the context of the paper, firm level sentiment appears to refer to whether investors have a positive or negative view of a stock’s future price. It also helps to check the paper for signs of either a momentum or mean-reversion factor. It mentions short-term overnight return persistence. When we read the word persistence, we can interpret this as referring to some kind of momentum. The paper also says that stocks with high overnight returns underperform. We can interpret this as a kind of mean reversion. After reading the abstract, it’s okay to quickly scan the paper for a preview of major sections. It’s common for papers to have an introduction, methodology, results, and conclusion section. It’s also okay to read the paper out of order. For example, you can start with the introduction, jump to the conclusion, then work your way through the methodology and results.